Friday, March 19, 2010

More than a cemetery survey . . .

Some months ago, I wrote about an in-depth history of the cemeteries of Logansport, Louisiana, published by two women of advanced age. Most intriguing was the research behind the book -- more than a cemetery survey, the ladies endeavored to research the families of those buried. This week, an article on, "The history in East Tennessee cemeteries is well-documented thanks to Robert McGinnis," tells the story (along with a video of the interview) of a Knox County, Tennesse man who has documented the cemeteries of 16 East and Middle Tennessee counties, and like the ladies of Logansport, provides research and even documentation on many of those buried. 

An ambitious project it was:

"He's taken all this information and packed it into 34 books that not only tell you which grave is, where and who it belongs to, but it goes one step further. "We add in information like wills, birth certificates, information on deaths, obituaries, marriage records. Fill it out a little bit, give it more of a life story."

What the article did not tell us is where the books could be accessed or which counties had been surveyed, so I did a little research and queried the author. I learned that only four of the 16 counties surveyed have actually been published in book form: Knox, Anderson, Grainger, and Blount. Each county is a multi-volume set, and some volumes are not yet complete. As for accessing what has been published, you can check local libraries for the counties completed. I also found some 17 of the publications under the author's name in the Library Catalog of Family History Library. Some of the information (probably not the complete histories), especially for Knox County, is online.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

A window to the past -- local area records

According to an article published recently on, "A window to the past," the Rutherford County Archives "holds the community's history" through its preservation of county government records, enabling people to do everything from legal work to genealogy research. Although focused on one Tennessee county, this story carries a broader message: be sure examine holdings at the local level to see what information is available. Buried treasure relating to your ancestors may be out there just waiting to be discovered, as Rutherford County archivist John Lodi explains.

"The records record history, so when it was times of enslavement, we have those records. When it was times of antebellum plantations, Old South, we have those records. We can document the civil rights movement through our records. So we definitely keep up with the social history of Rutherford County and Murfreesboro. It's very fascinating."

While not everything a locality holds is digitized, a multitude of potentially valuable materials are available -- the task is finding out what records are available and how to access them. Most counties, libraries, and archives have websites . . . and check back often. Also, don't forget local genealogy societies, which make it their business to know the local area and can be very helpful.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tennessee death indexes online

An article in the Genealogy column on reports the death records for the state of Tennessee are now available online in three separate indexes. The information can be used to order original documents. Tennessee began recording death records in 1908. Here are links to those sites offering the indexes: Tennessee State Archives and Library, Index to Tennessee Death Records 1908-1912; Tennessee State Archives and Library, Statewide Index to Tennessee Death Records 1914 - 1926; Memphis Public Library History and Genealogy Index -- this index allows the visitor to search Memphis/Shelby County deaths (1848-1945) from the Memphis Death Register books and yellow fever deaths recorded during an epidemic in 1878. Also included in the database are the Freedmen's Bureau marriage index of 1863-4.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish roots in East Tennessee

If you are looking for your Irish ancestry, maybe you haven't thought to check East Tennessee. But an article at, "Ireland Minister Hopes To Build Tourism Link With East Tennessee," reports North Ireland hopes to take advantage of a growing interest in genealogy to promote a cultural and tourism exchange between that region and East Tennessee. Many of the whites who settled in East Tennessee in the 18th century where Scots-Irish who left Ulster for the Appalachian frontier. Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Edwin Poots, was in Tennessee last week and says he sees a "significant opportunity" for tourism and exchanges between the two regions.

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